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updated: 7/8/2014 11:42 AM

Batavia council: Keep Randall Road 75% shopping, dining

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  • Video: Batavia Wants Randall Retail

  • Batavia officials, worried that too much store space along Randall Road could be used for businesses that don't generate sales tax, voted Monday night to limit such uses to 25 percent of the square footage of strip malls such as this one on Fabyan Parkway. The Circuit City closed in 2008. It is next door to an Office Depot store the city fears may close, due to the merger with Office Max, which also has a store in Batavia. Mayor Jeff Schielke said a health club was interested in the Circuit City space.

       Batavia officials, worried that too much store space along Randall Road could be used for businesses that don't generate sales tax, voted Monday night to limit such uses to 25 percent of the square footage of strip malls such as this one on Fabyan Parkway. The Circuit City closed in 2008. It is next door to an Office Depot store the city fears may close, due to the merger with Office Max, which also has a store in Batavia. Mayor Jeff Schielke said a health club was interested in the Circuit City space.
    RICK WEST | Staff Photographer, 2008

 
 

Businesses that don't generate sales tax -- health clubs, dry cleaners, dentists and the like -- can now be considered again for spots on Randall Road in Batavia.

But they can't occupy more than 25 percent of the square feet of a building, the city council decided Monday.

Aldermen voted 12-2 to lift a moratorium set in December 2013 against businesses that don't generate sales tax and establish the limit.

The aim is to keep Randall retail in nature, with stores and restaurants whose sales will put taxes into the city's bank account.

The owner of the Windmill Lakes shopping center, which contains a health club and an optical shop, had asked the city to consider a 50 percent allowance. The plan commission recommended 35 percent.

"That's our tax-producing engine out there," Mayor Jeff Schielke said.

Alderman Dave Brown said that because "the market is constantly changing," the city council could vote in the future to raise or lower the percentage.

And a staff report on the current tenants in the centers along Randall show that at most of them, 75 percent or more of the occupied space is being used by retail businesses. Even if their vacant spaces were filled with offices or salons, they wouldn't run into trouble, according to the report.

Aldermen Lucy Thelin Atac and Nick Cerone voted against the measure.

Atac said she supported the idea of a limit in general. But "I think given this market, the tough leasing market, I think 25 percent might be a little arbitrary." She suggested a higher percentage and that the city should instead consider levying a tax or fee on services.

Cerone called the limit "an undue restriction on businesses."

Schielke proposed the moratorium in October 2013, after the council voted to allow a physical-therapy practice to open in a strip center near Walmart.

Sales tax is expected to make up 29 percent of the revenue for the city's general fund this year. That fund pays for everything but the utility operations.

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